Published online Apr 15, 2016. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v8.i4.341
Peer-review started: September 16, 2015
First decision: October 21, 2015
Revised: November 23, 2015
Accepted: January 21, 2016
Article in press: January 22, 2016
Published online: April 15, 2016
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is one of the most widespread infections in humans worldwide that chronically infects up to 50% of the world’s population. The infection is involved in the pathogenesis of chronic active gastritis, peptic ulcer, mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma and gastric cancer, therefore, it has been classified as class I definite carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Despite the established etiological role of H. pylori, its actual distribution and association with related diseases is controversial and there is a large intercountry variation especially among Asian countries. H. pylori infection is more frequent in developing countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as compared to developed Asian countries like Japan, China and South Korea. However, the frequency of gastric cancer is comparatively lower in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh with that of Japan, China and South Korea. Such phenomenon of clinical diversity, defined as enigma, is judged by genetic variability of the infecting H. pylori strains, differences in the host genetic background in various ethnic groups, and environmental factors such as dietary habits. Most of the studies have so far focused on the bacterial factor while environmental issues, including dietary components, were not given due attention as one of the factors related with H. pylori associated gastric carcinogenesis. The dietary factor has been suggested to play an important role in H. pylori related carcinogenesis, and in this respect several studies have corroborated the intake of various dietary components as modulatory factors for gastric cancer risk. In this review, such studies, from in vitro experiments to clinical trials, are being focused in detail with respect to enigma associated with H. pylori. It may be conceivably concluded from the available evidence that dietary factor can be a game changer in the scenario of Asian enigma, particularly in high risk population infected with virulent H. pylori strains, however further affirmation studies are desperately needed to achieve conclusive outcomes.
Core tip: Despite the established etiological role of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), its actual distribution and association with related diseases is controversial, especially among Asian countries, a phenomenon termed as Asian enigma. This is judged by genetic variability of the infecting H. pylori strains, diversity in the host genetic background, and environmental factors such as diet. Amongst these, the dietary factor was not given much attention. In this review, dietary components are focused in detail with respect to H. pylori-associated enigma with a specific emphasis and comparison of dietary ingredients between Asian countries in order to critically evaluate its role in Asian enigma.